November 2, 2023

Christopher Bengt

Chris Bengtsquare

Project title: Volcanic fertilisation of tropical forest biomes

Location: British Geological Survey – Keyworth


I completed my Master’s (MRes) degree in Biological Science at Birkbeck, University of London, where I studied DNA extraction in archaeological animal bones. The project involved optimising the DNA extraction and purification protocol for ancient DNA extracted from animal bones and used analytical methods to assess the level of damage of the bones to indicate the extent of preservation of ancient DNA. While studying, I worked in immune response to vaccines and infectious diseases as a Laboratory Technician at World Health Organization Pneumococcal Serology Reference Laboratory at University College London.

My PhD project ‘Volcanic fertilisation of tropical forest biomes’ aims to answer fundamental questions about how tropical forest composition, structure, flowering dynamics and productivity in regions with active volcanos are affected by needed nutrients such as phosphorus during ash falls. This will involve fieldwork based in the Philippines to collect soil samples, interrogating the geochemical signatures trapped in lake sediments cores using stable isotope analysis and to extract and analyse modern and ancient DNA to record climate, volcanic and biological history spanning the last 2000 years.